Sunday, February 21, 2016

THE INTERLUDE PART 1 - REVELATION 10

10:1-11:14
The Interlude

Six trumpets have sounded. But, before the seventh sounds, there is an interlude. It was the same with the seal judgments. Between the sixth and seventh seal judgments there was an interlude. The structures of the two sets of judgments are the same. They cover the same time period.

Part of the reason for the interlude, in other words part of the delay, is to increase the drama of the final judgment. Partial judgments have occurred, but there is a pause before the final judgment of the seventh trumpet as there was before the final judgment of the sixth seal.

The interlude also directs us back to see God’s protection of his people. The interlude in the seal judgments did the same, showing us that believers are sealed by God and protected by him.


10:1-7
The Mighty Angel

John saw another mighty angel descending from heaven. The first one was in 5:2. This indicates that John is on earth (in his vision). That would be logical since the trumpet judgments show the judgments from the perspective of earth (the seal judgments showed the perspective from heaven).

This angel reflects the glory of God. Is this simply a mighty angel, or is this the glorified Lord Jesus? He had a rainbow over his head. John described the throne of the Father as having around it a “rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald”. (Rev. 4:3)

The angel’s face was like the sun. (10:1) In other words, his face radiated the glory of God. In 1:16, John said of Jesus, “his face was like the sun shining in full strength”. Moses’ face reflected God’s glory when he left his presence.

Lastly, the angel had legs like pillars of fire and he was wrapped in a cloud. This reminds us of the Lord going before Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. (Exodus 13:22) In fact, cloud and fire came with the presence of the Lord all through the Exodus experience. When Moses came to the burning bush, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush. (Exodus 3:2) When God gave manna to the Israelites, the “glory of the Lord appeared in a cloud”. (16:10) When God came to Mount Sinai to give the covenant, there was a cloud, lightening and smoke. (Exodus 19) When God’s presence came to the Tabernacle, there was a cloud by day and fire by night. (Exodus 40:38) Daniel saw one like the Son of Man coming with the clouds to the Father to receive eternal dominion. (Daniel 7:13) In Daniel 10, Daniel’s prayer was answered by an angel with a powerful appearance, including fire, lightening, bronze and a very loud voice. So, this is either an angel close to God or even the Lord Jesus himself.

The angel had a “little scroll” in his hand. (10:2) Since we already in the context of a scroll that contains God’s plan for earth and humankind, this seems to be that scroll. This also fits the pattern of the transmission of the message as told in 1:1. God gave Jesus the revelation, Jesus gave it to his angel, who was sent to give it to John. John then gave it to the churches. What chapter 1 told, chapter 10 shows.

Before the angel gave John the scroll, he took an oath. He put one foot on the sea and one on the land. This demonstrates God’s power over all the earth, both land and sea. In chapter 13, we will see Satan’s challenge to God’s authority. He will send a beast from the land and a beast from the sea.

The angel called out with a loud voice that resembled, for John, the roar of a lion. (3) We are not told if he said anything, but it seems to be an expression of God’s wrath that will be poured out on the earth. For example, look at Amos 3:7-8. It says:

for the LORD GOD does nothing
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.
The Lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The LORD GOD has spoken;
who can but prophesy.

And it was John’s job to be the prophet and convey the message the Lord spoke through his angel. In verse 11, John was told “you must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings”.

When the angel roared, the heavens respond with 7 thunders.(3) The thunders evidently had words,  for John started to write them down.  But God spoke from heaven and told him not to and to seal them up, meaning to keep them secret. We are not told why the thunders are sealed. But it may be that the time for any further delay has passed. When the 7th and last trumpet is blown, judgment has come. There is no remaining opportunity to repent. That is what the angel said when he took his oath; “there would be no more delay”. It is time for vindication of believers and judgment of unbelievers.

The angel raised his hand and swore by God. (5-6) It is the same posture used here in America to swear in a witness at trial or a politician into office. They swear “so help me God”. But here, rather than just say “God”, John gave us this beautiful description of God. He is “him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it”. God is eternal and he created all things.

As a side note, we see yet another place in the Bible where the creation of the earth is credited to God. If you attack creation in the Genesis account, and attribute it to nature, it is not only that passage that you must destroy. It is every verse of the Bible that says God created the earth, including this verse. God’s creation of the earth is the basis for his power and authority over it. And that is one reason men attack the doctrine of creation. Men want to be autonomous and not accountable to God.

What the angel swore was:
the time for delay is over;
when the 7th trumpet sounds, the mystery of God would be fulfilled;
just as he announced through the prophets. (7)

All through the Bible, God spoke. He revealed himself. He revealed his plan one small piece at a time. He revealed these things to his prophets. The prophets revealed them to the people.

Eating the Scroll
10:8-11

After the angel made his oath, the voice from heaven told John to take the scroll from the angel. John did. The angel told him to eat the scroll and that it would make his stomach bitter but taste sweet as honey in his mouth. (9)

John took the scroll and ate it. (10) Indeed, it was sweet as honey in his mouth, but made his stomach bitter.

This reminds us of a similar event with the prophet Ezekiel, when he was commissioned to prophesy. God told him to eat a scroll written on front and back, like the one in Revelation. (Ezekiel 3:1) It symbolized Ezekiel’s obligation to take in God’s words and speak them to the people. God said “son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you, receive in our heart and hear with our ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them ‘thus says the Lord God”. (Ezekiel 3:10) When Ezekiel ate the scroll, it was as sweet as honey in his mouth. (3:1) But, when he was taken away, he went in bitterness of spirit. (3:14)

This reference to Ezekiel tells us John was to receive God’s revelation and tell it to the people.

God’s word is sweet to those who believe in him and love him. Psalm 119:103 says “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth”. The gospel to us is the sweet story of redemption. But it sets the unbeliever’s teeth on edge. And it becomes bitter when taken in. Ezekiel gave a message to Israel but Israel did not repent. John gave and gives a message to all to repent and be saved. He was told to prophesy to many peoples and nations and languages and kings. (11) Certainly, the book of Revelation has been translated into many languages and distributed to many nations. But most do not repent. Instead, they reject Christ for the dragon, the beast and the harlot that will appear in the following chapters. And they will die in their sin.    

There is some bitterness in Revelation for believers also. Although they cannot be separated from the love of Christ and cannot lose their eternal life, they will be persecuted and some will be killed physically. Paul said the apostles were put to death all day long. (Romans 8:35) Church history is full of martyrs from Stephen and James to those slaughtered in Iraq this week. And it will get worse before it gets better. Thankfully, when it gets better, it gets way better.

In the world we have tribulation. But Jesus overcame the world. So, we can be courageous. (John 16:33)


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